tv This Week in Defense CBS May 6, 2012 11:30am-12:00pm EDT
welcome to "this week in defense news." i'm vago muradian. after a string of embarrassing incidents involving u.s. troops in afghanistan, pentagon leaders are cracking down. we'll hear why defense secretary leon panetta sees discipline as a strategic issue. but, first, the improvised explosive device or ied has defined the wars in iraq and afghanistan, such low-cost bombs have been a weapon of choice for centuries and a global scurnlg. last year alone nearly 7000 such devices were used in 111 countries, causing more than 12,000 casualties. over the past decade low-cost bombs made of artillery shells or fertilizer have been the deadliest weapons in both wars,
killing or injuring thousands of american and allied troops and many more civilians, spurring many billions of dollars in spending for better armored vehicles, detection systems like surveillance aircraft, jammers to defeat improvised bombs and robots to diffuse them. for this coordinated response, they created jido. in the six years since its launch, it has developed new systems, tactics and procedures that have helped save countless u.s. friends and troops' lives. it has an annual budget of about $3.5 billion. joining us "today" is lieutenant general michael barbero. >> thank you, vago. >> welcome back. we talked to you when you were in iraq a couple of years ago. >> we did. >> tell us about how the ied threat has been evolving and what is the major type of threat that troops are facing today. >> well, the basic ied is comprised of five elements. you have a switch, and we have
several here i'll speak to in a minute, a power source to complete the circuit and initiator to start the debtonnation and the explosive itself. for switches, what we've seen and continue to see are several types. the first one is command wire. there's someone sitting at the end of this wire and they stretch it out, it could go for about 100 meters. at the end of it is an ied and at the time of the choice they initiate the ied. >> push the button and an electric circuit and you've got a detonator? >> what we saw a lot of in iraq is the radio-controlled ied. very simple cell phone, key fab, improvised device. and easily hidden, but all they have to do there is press a button and it completes a circuit and initiates the ied. again, 50 to 100 meters range. what we're seeing most prevalent in afghanistan is the pressure blade. and this is representative of
the type we see, very simple, very crude, but very effective. as a low metal content as they can make them. as you can see when simple pressure is applied, completes a circuit and detonates the blasting cap. >> and low metal content makes it very, very hard to detect with any sort of clearing device you have. >> absolutely. so with all of these you have a switch, you have a power source, a 9-volt battery and an initiator which is usually a blasting cap or something like that. they just put it in the back of the ied and put it in the right position and then it's set up. >> you're off to the races. and with this sort of a pressure plate technology, jamming systems don't really work as well in order to be able to interrupt that. >> that's right. so that leads us to how we can detect these and also detect the sources of these materials. but you asked how they've changed. and the most common ied was saw in iraq was the sploasively formed projectile, copper
plate, we turn this into a copper dart which would penetrate a lot of our vehicles. we've seen these recently migrate to somalia. in afghanistan, about 80% of our ieds are made with homemade explosives, largely -- largely fertilizer. here's a fertilizer bag, 26% nitrogen. for about $100 they can get this bag, process it and put it into six or 8 very successful ieds. they're ubiquitous. we see a vegetable oil container. you put a blasting cap on it, bury it with the battery beneath it to even decrease the metal silgt and it's -- signature and it's ready to go. >> exactly how much damage would something this large filled with fertilizer be able to do? >> this one can hold up to about 20 pounds, as low as about three pounds can be devastating to a dismounted squad. >> wow! >> 40 pounds to a vehicle. >> you're taking even a big vehicle out with that kind of a charge. >> a big vehicle, absolutely. >> when we look at some of the
other kind of technologies that are being used on the dissension side and the defeat side, what are we looking at at this end of the table? >> i've chosen a dismount suite of devices. let's say you're dismounted patrol, walking down the trail going to do a mission in helmond province and an airborne sensor or something else tells you there might be something up ahead. first you want to try to detect what it is. we have thermal monoculars, they're very lightweight. the guys can see a change in temperature between disturbed earth or something that's buried, they can even tell. so if you see something that's suspect, but you may want to send up one of your troopers with a hand-held device to confirm what's there or not, or you may want to use something as simple as what's called a holly stick which our marines love. it goes out to about 16 feet and you can scrape the soil, it
gives you enough standoff. >> gives you enough standoff is a relative thing. i don't think i want to be 16 feet away from 40 pounds of explosives, but i'll take your point. >> but it will help scrape away the soil, maybe bring to surface a wire which then you can see and then you can deal with it. another tool which we're just fielding now is a lightweight robot. we talked to the troopers and they said they wanted something light they could carry, to look over a wall in a courtyard, down a trail. >> very robust. very robust. as you can see on here, it's got a camera that shows both daylight and has an infrared camera for nighttime viewing. >> it's got about an hour worth of battery life so it's actually really, really useful in a real-world application. it is. like i said, it's 1.2 pounds, so if it gets destroyed, you just pull out another one.
they tell us which one they like, we'll rapidly field that. >> you have reliance on the amount of robotics because you have a program to compare all series of robots out there. >> from fixed wing aircraft to 40,000 feet to tactical uavs to several hundred feet, to what's in our vehicles, in our jammers and what we have for our dismounted operations. >> that's fantastic. we'll continue our
joint ied defeat organization. sir, we're talking about a very, very highly adaptive enemy that has enormous amounts of real-world experience and a very sophisticated network to share some of these lessons learned worldwide. what are tomorrow's ied threats going to look like? >> it's only limited by their imagination. for example, how will they use wi-fi as a triggering device. we have a whole generation of these experienced, savvy, smart operators who know how to adapt, and we've been in an arms race. but instead of taking years to produce another icbm or radar, it's weeks and months we see it change in afghanistan, and, frankly, globally because globally we see about 600 ieds a month. so they are adaptive, and for every new technology we field, i guarantee you there's someone on a computer somewhere trying to figure out how to convert that. >> there could be an ied app for someone that they could control from their smart phone.
>> absolutely. >> this is an instance where with relatively meager expendture an enemy is imposing enormous cost on the united states and its allies. what have we gotten for the huge investment that we've made, but moreover, how do we fundamentally change the equation to start imposing greater costs on our enemies? >> well, i would say we've given our commanders freedom of maneuver and that's what i tell my organization is our purpose. they have to operate in an ied environment but ensure they have free of maneuver to get to those villages to conduct operations. and i would tell you that's what i think we've given them. it is the weapon of choice. and as i said, we are operating in this ied environment and it's tough, and we have to continue to adapt and evolve to be able to do that. but as we look to the future, we have to figure out a way to drive up their costs and drive down ours. as i talk to our industry partners, and as we talk about the future and some of our
needs for the future, i tell them it's gotta be affordable. their business model is crushing ours when for a couple hundred dollars they can produce six to eight ieds, isn't it? >> it is. but there are ways to do that. you know, we're having a conversation about the device. the key factor in this is attacking and putting pressure on the networks, and you can do that by a variety of means, you know, lethally as we're doing in afghanistan, we did it in iraq, but also using and employing all of the tools that we have available in our government. it takes a network to defeat a network and that's how you can raise their costs of doing business. >> let's take a look at that because when china was originally created, general megs was the commander at the time. one of the things he said was there was lesser focus on the hardware element of it and a greater focus, as far as he was concerned on the intelligence
of it. how much it is hardware and network as you go about doing it because we've erected network upon network upon network. >> there's really three parts to it that we operate on. the first one is defeating the device, and you have to do that because it gives your commanders freedom to maneuver and it lowers your casualties. and, you know, that attracts a lot of attention, takings a lot of our funding, but you must do that. the second thing we focus on is training. what's the best-equipped user in the world if he doesn't know how to use the equipment to his best benefit. we focus a lot on training. the third part of that is attacking the network and that is decisive. if you're worried about the device, you're playing defense. if you're focused on disabling these networks, you're on the offensive and you're having a decisive effort. so it's emerging of all of these and making sure that we're capable in all three realms that is decisive. >> there are those who say that, look, we are -- 2014 is going to be the withdrawal of
combat forces from afghanistan, obviously u.s. forces are going to be staying there longer given the agreement last week. but there are those who are saying, even a few years ago, let's disband jito because each of the military services has learned an enormous amount of lessons, let's shift this responsibility into the military services. why is jido needed from your perspective? >> people ask me that all the time. i tell them that's the wrong question. the right questions are is is the ied going to be here for the next decade and what we've seen and the answer is absolutely, it's too cheap, too readily available, too easy to make. we have an entire generation of bomb makers, so the ied is going to be here. are these threat networks, are they going to try to attack us, attack our forces operationally or domestically for a decade? i think the answer is yes. so if that's the case and we have this enduring threat, then we need enduring capabilities and out of every conflict there's been a new capability and a new threat that has
evolved, and we just -- we adjust our organization to accommodate as we move into the future and i think that's the case here with the ieds and these networks. >> there is a tendency to forget that -- i mean, for example, we had a plot last week that was foiled that was an ied that was going to be aimed at a cleveland bridge. how significant is the danger in the united states to americans here and what are you doing in order to be better able to coordinate with state and local governments to be able to take care of that challenge? >> the top five countries of ied events every month, pakistan, colombia, russia, syria and the united states and that's not well understood, but we do have an ied challenge, and i tell our partners, federal partners that and they understand there's an ied coming to a national mall near you. it's coming here. there are too many networks, too many of this generation of bomb makers that are determined. we've been very successful, i think, as a nation in preventing these, but they are good and they are very
determined. where we have -- i think the way of the future in this, to handle this enduring domestic threat is to really knit together all of the tools we have at our disposal. as we understand these networks, where's their money? and we have partnership with department of treasury. how are they doing business? department of commerce, fbi and others, they have tools to go after their money, their exports and such and that's how we have to move. >> very much a holdup government as you guys get clearing of your strategic plan approach. >> i will tell you it's about the key -- the key factor is the money. it's understanding their financial transactions and going after those in the future. >> again, putting pressure on the networks. >> absolutely. >> as opposed to just individual bomb maker. your command, in your strategic plan, you highlight a whole series of sort of strategic capability gaps that you're evaluating. can you give us an update on the shortcomings, with honesty, and where you are in addressing them. >> we realize this is an
evolving adaptive enemy and we have to evolve and adapt and be as agile as they are. first thing we have to do is articulate to our national labs, academia, all of our partners, what are our needs, what are the key capabilities that we see we need moving in the future. so we've done that. and we've made it unclassified so we could share this as broadly as we can. now, attached to that is a classified version which describes the tactical employment of these capabilities and a little better understanding. but it's important. whenever we receive a requirement from a commander in afghanistan, we immediately go out to all of our partners and say here's what we need, bring us your good ideas and we rapidly field them. we had a requirement this past summer, and in 3 1/2 months we fielded 210,000 pieces of equipment. that's what we're in the business to do and that's what we should do in the future. >> sir, thanks very much. best of luck. you're welcome back anytime. >> thank you very much. coming up next, why defense secretary leon panetta sees good military discipline as a
move money with a slide. save with a shake. feel good about your decisions. despite negative headlines, u.s. military leaders maintain that the international coalition fighting the taliban and al-qaida in afghanistan are proving tactically successful. on the strategic front a series of images showing u.s. troops urinating on and posing with dead taliban bodies threatens to undermine those efforts in raging afghans alienating images worldwide. to leaders like defense secretary leon panetta and marine corps comdant jim aim o's. after a decade of war in which standards were stretched and in some cases ignored, discipline problems are on the rise with reports of gruesome hazing, bizarre initiation rituals and instance of alcohol-fueled debotchery costing commanders and troops their jobs. andrew tillman is the pentagon correspondent for the military times and talked with secretary
panetta this week. andrew, welcome back. thanks. >> so military people like civilians have always done dumb things, but these particular incidence are really regarded as having strategic impact. you spoke with secretary panetta. what did he have to say about it? >> yes, i spoke with the secretary this week, and i was a little surprise today hear him talk about this, but he talked about how some of these incidences we've had over the past few months is really having a strategic impact on the mission overseas. like i said, i was a little surprised about that because normally the secretary doesn't talk about things that were normally left to the senior enlisted leaders, but -- >> or the service leaders. >> service leaders, yeah. i think there's a number of factors going on here. we talked a lot over the years about the digital photographs and the interpt and how that makes things much more readily available. you also have with these conflicts a more asymmetrical counterinsurgency situation where these politically-loaded type things can have a much
greater impact. and i think even compared to iraq, the afghans, there's a really high illiteracy rate in afghanistan and these photos can have a really outsized impact on the political situation over there. >> are the incidents that we're seeing sort of overall incidents rising, are we seeing more, is it a few bad apples, is it more widespread? what's kind of the thinking on that? >> it's hard to know exactly. i asked the secretary whether he thought there was a broader disciplinary issue. he kind of shied away from that. but i have heard a lot of senior enlisted leaders talk over the past few years that some concern over 10 years of war, the standards have eroded and that's what amos has been spending a lot of time on the past few weeks. he clearly sent out a letter to ñ+!!bñ standards were eroding and this really was threatening the respect that the corps commands
from the rest of the country. and so, yeah, it's hard to -- there's no statistics on this sort of thing, but clearly there's the sense that there may be an issue here and it's at the highest levels of the department. >> and the message is going down from the very top that folks have got to knock this kind of stuff off. >> yes. general amos and secretary panetta said that he was specifically supportive of everything that general amos has been talking about over the last couple of weeks. general amos has been calling out individual commanders and talking about specific units that he feels have been dropping the ball and seeing their standards lowered. so, you know, i think there's going to be a real push in the next few months for the unit level officers and the senior enlisted guys to really kind of crack down on this stuff. >> but in this particular instance, we're talking about images in afghanistan, but more broadly, it's been a rather bizarre stream of stories, right, from some of the initiation rituals, some units that had some gruesome hazing. >> we've had some very bizarre hazing incidents in the army. you've had that incident a few months ago where the marine
sniper team was photographed with that nazi-erass insignificant nia -- insignia. yes, this is getting really bizarre. as things have evolved with the taliban, insurgents understand better how to really capitalize on these kinds of political openings because this is their best bet since tactically things are not going as well. >> we've got about 30 seconds left. one of the things you mentioned is how much more active on personnel stuff that you're surprised -- you know, that panetta is more active on this stuff than you had expected him to be. some of his priorities are women's issues. in the 30 seconds we've got left, what's the update on both women in combat and some of the other -- and especially sexual harassment? >> yeah. i think it was interesting that when the secretary came into office last year, we all thought he was going to be strictly a budget guy. but he's actually been really involved in some of these personnel-oriented issues. in the past couple of months, he's made a push on sexual
during the last defense downturn, the clinton administration made regulatory changes to encourage commercial contractors to more economically satisfy military needs. to increase flexibility, they introduced a concept of commercial of a type purchases. so d.o.d. could buy existing products that needed only reasonable and modest modification like asking a commercial vendor to produce
t-shirts in green instead of white, expanding d.o.d.'sability to quickly require everything from utility helicopters to smart phones. it's also been misapplied with devastating results. to economically upgrade the president's aging helicopter fleet, the navy wanted to modify a commercial chopper for the job, but the government demanded more than 1,000 specification changes, including building an aircraft out of an entirely different kind of aluminum. costs soared and the program was canceled. now d.o.d. wants congress to drop the commercial of a type category. that would be a mistake that would dissuade commercial firms from working with d.o.d. and hurt contractors that depend on modified program costs. the problem is not regulation but how it's been used. if you need to make 1,000 changes to a commercial product to meet a requirement, you're better off developing a product from scratch or adopt more modest requirements. d.o.d. must better define what it really needs and how best to acquire it, including getting the best the commercial industry has to offer. thanks for joining us for "this week in defense news."